How to Take Care of Yourself and Put Yourself First

How to Help Yourself

I have recently been thinking of the Audrey Hepburn quote, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”

I had never felt the truth of this statement as much as I have now before I became a mom. I didn’t fully understand selfless, unconditional love, or the fierce devotion I’d have to wanting to help and protect my daughter as much as possible.

At the same time, I also never understood how vital it is to take care of myself, or that the ONLY way to take care of others is by taking care of myself first.

Becoming a mother has taught me what a great helper I am, and it’s also forced me to learn to help myself by taking simple, doable, and consistent actions that make a big difference in my quality of life.

By learning to help myself, and take great care of myself, I am better able to show up in the world as the wife, woman, and mother that I most want to be.

I am currently facing some new stressors in my life. My grandmother, who I am extremely close with had to have emergency surgery and has been in the hospital for almost two weeks. My 90 year old grandfather has been alone in their home, and needs help going back and forth to visit my grandma. I’ve been spending most days at the hospital with them, while also trying to juggle motherhood and all of my other responsibilities, and I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t stressful.

The only thing that’s keeping me sane through this ordeal is my commitment to self care; my dedication to helping myself first.

This is what helping myself first looks like these days:

  • Practicing yoga every morning
  • Spending a little time outdoors each day
  • Eating a healthy breakfast
  • Bringing my own lunch to the hospital
  • Using essential oils to ground me throughout the day whenever I need it
  • Taking a daily break to go for a walk
  • Listening to good music and inspiring podcasts on my drives to and from the hospital
  • Putting away my phone and being fully present with my husband and daughter each night
  • Crying to my husband or a friend whenever I’m feeling particularly burdened
  • Relaxing and reading before bed every night
  • Asking for help when I need it

These activities may seem trivial, and maybe doing one of them by itself wouldn’t have as big of an impact. But the culmination of taking these small moments to take care of myself daily adds up to my feeling grounded, safe, and supported, even during uncertain times.

It is only from this place of being cared for, that I am able to help others. By filling myself up first, I can show up as the patient and loving mother that I most want to be. I can help and support my grandparents as they age. I can be a devoted wife, and a good friend. I can hold more space for my coaching clients and be of greater service to them. I can write meaningful blog posts. I can show up to the world ready to give and ready to help…. But ONLY if I am helping myself first.

This is true for all of us. I would love for you to take some time this week to think about the ways in which you are helping others, and also the ways in which you are helping yourself. Notice if this give and take feels balanced to you. We are here in this world to help one another, but we simply cannot do that to the best of our ability if we are not first helping ourselves.

What can you do to help yourself today?

Please share in the comments below, or reply to this email to speak to me personally!

Take care and have a beautiful week.

Be well,
Ambar

 

P.S. If you are someone who struggles with making self care a priority, I would love to help! I am getting ready to start working with new coaching clients and am offering a free Self Care Strategy Session to anyone who is interested in seeing how life coaching works. I know that this time of year can get a little stressful, and I would love to support you in putting yourself first so that you can have an easeful and peaceful holiday season. Simply send an email to ambar@mamabirdwellnest.com if you would like to claim your free session and we will get it scheduled right away!

 

How to Thrive During Daylight Savings Time

How to Thrive during Daylight Savings Time

Good morning my friends!

Today is the first day of Daylight Savings Time. Some of you may be enjoying an extra hour of sleep. For others of you, especially those that are parents, maybe not so much! Today I want to share one simple step that you can take to make the most out of the time change this year.

I know that for many of us, this time of year can lead to seasonal depression, or the winter blues due to the lack of daylight hours.

It has been proven that spending just 10-15 minutes outside everyday can help counteract these effects.

There are many reasons why getting outdoors daily is beneficial to our health. The first is that it helps increase the levels of vitamin D in our bodies. Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin”, as our bodies naturally produce vitamin D when they are exposed to sunlight. Research has shown that vitamin D is particularly helpful for regulating mood and warding off depression.

Another reason why getting outside daily is helpful in improving our moods, is that it helps us get closer to nature. As human beings, we are part of the natural world. However, many times, particularly during the colder, darker months, we spend much of our time indoors surrounded by electronics and the worldly pleasures of the material world. While there is nothing wrong with this, the material world will never compare to the natural world. By getting outside everyday, our bodies become more in tune with nature which leads to feelings of optimal health and wellbeing, since being a part of nature is our natural state.

Getting out in nature everyday, feeling the sunshine on our skin, and breathing fresh air, can do wonders to uplift our mood all year long. Colder temperatures and darker days should not be an excuse to confine ourselves to the indoors, when nature has so much to offer!

Here are 25 different ways to spend some time outdoors each and every day:

  1. Go for a walk around your neighborhood
  2. Play outside with your kids
  3. Jump in a pile of leaves
  4. Sit outside and read
  5. Garden
  6. Go hiking
  7. Clean your yard and rake leaves
  8. Go sightseeing in your town
  9. Shop at an outdoor mall
  10. Go to the beach
  11. Take a trip to the zoo
  12. Go for a nature hut and look for leaves, acorns, etc.
  13. Create a nature mandala from your nature walk findings
  14. Sit on your porch and just breathe
  15. Play basketball
  16. Do outdoor yoga
  17. Ride a bike
  18. Go to an outdoor festival
  19. Go walking with a friend
  20. Take your child for a walk in a stroller
  21. Walk aimlessly with your children and let them lead the way
  22. Go to a park
  23. Play at a playground
  24. Rollerblade or rollerskate
  25. Swing on swings

In order to ward off the winter blues before they start, I’m joining a great group of ladies in a 5 day challenge to get outside everyday for a minimum of 10 minutes! The challenge is taking place right in our Facebook group, The Stress Free Society. Click here to join the group, get all the details, and join us in this fun challenge! We start tomorrow, Monday 11/6.

Wishing you a fun week ahead. Get outside, play, and be happy.

Be well,
Ambar

Stop Stress with this One Simple Step

how to stop stress and overwhelm

 

Hey friend!

I have a question for you… how do you handle stress and overwhelm?

I’ve recently had the realization that there are two major ways in which most of us manage stress in our lives.

The first way that many of us manage stress is by shutting down. Many of us feel a need to retreat when we feel overwhelmed by the world around us. We feel like there is just too much to manage, and so we choose to close ourselves off and take a break from dealing with the stressors at hand. We may isolate ourselves from the people that matter to us, avoid responsibilities, and feel a bit rundown and lethargic.

The second way that many of us manage stress is very much the opposite of the first. Instead of shutting down, many of us decide to add as many things as possible to our to-do list. We turn into overachievers and spend every second of the day checking things off our list. We believe that by being productive, we are proving that we can handle it all, and oftentimes handle it all by ourselves. We overextend ourselves so much, that we don’t have time to even think about our stressors. We may feel a bit exhausted and drained as a result.

The truth is, neither one of these two extremes is particularly helpful. In both instances, we are avoiding the very difficult task of coping with our feelings. Whether we choose to avoid our stressors by laying on the couch, or by adding on to our never-ending to do list, we are still very much avoiding something that needs to be addressed. And avoidance never leads to us feeling good. The only way out of stress and overwhelm is through these difficult feelings. We must take the time to figure out what is causing us to feel this way, do what we can to change the circumstances that are within our control, and accept and let go of the ones that are not.

So think about it… which of these two habits is your natural method of coping with stress and overwhelm? Do you tend to avoid and isolate, or overextend and overachieve?

Once you have figured out your natural tendencies, you can start taking small steps towards balance. The best way to do this is to notice when you catch yourself falling into your old patterns, and start to take a small step in the opposite direction.

If your natural tendency is to shut down and retreat from the world, you might decide to meet a friend for coffee, go for a walk, or have a dance party. These activities will uplift you and may give you the extra bit of motivation that you need to keep moving in a more positive direction.

If your natural tendency is to add on to your to-do list, you might instead decide to slow down by drinking a cup of tea, listening to some soothing music, or binge watching your favorite show on Netflix. These activities will encourage you to give yourself some space to breathe, rest, and recuperate.

I hope that you find this helpful! In the comments below, I would love to know which of these two tendencies do you naturally gravitate towards? I personally am more of a lay on the couch and avoid the world kind of girl, and I am well aware that this behavior is not serving me so I am going to be taking steps in the other direction. I hope that this encourages you to start noticing your own patterns and start taking steps towards more balance in your life.

Wishing you a peaceful week.

Be well,
Ambar

P.S. If you enjoyed this conversation, you would love my new Facebook group, The Stress Free Society. It’s a private space to connect with other women who are working to find inner peace in their busy lives. We have daily discussions on simple ways to decrease stress and anxiety and would love for you to join us! Click here to join the group now! 🙂 I look forward to connecting with you more personally in the group!

 

Want some help reducing stress and increasing peace? Click the photo below to download my FREE e-guide, 50 Ways to Feel Good Fast!

 

3 Steps to Bust Through a Bad Mood

How to bust through a Bad Mood

Through the years, I’ve learned many different ways to relieve stress, decrease anxiety, and cope with the stressors of life. You might think that I’m walking around in a little happy bubble all the time, but that’s not the case. I have challenging days just like everybody else, I get into bad moods, and sometimes I have trouble snapping out of them. The most interesting thing I’ve noticed is that the times in which I am feeling particularly stressed or anxious are usually the times when I am most resistant to doing the things that I know will make me feel better!

Things like taking an hour long yoga class or going in a quiet room to meditate are my go-to ideas for getting out of a bad mood and feeling better. But, they are not always conducive to my life. So, I’ve developed a simple 3 step process that I use to clear my energy and bounce back quickly whenever I find myself in a bad mood. The whole process does not take very long, and when I take the time to do it, I find myself feeling better immediately. I wanted to share with you, so that you can give it a try too!

3 Steps to Bust Through a Bad Mood:

1) Breathe

Many times when we find ourselves in stressful situations, our breathing gets shallow. When we are not taking big, full breaths, it sends a panic signal to our brain, that makes us feel even worse! Whenever I am feeling stressed or anxious, the first thing I do is bring my attention back to my breathing. I take deep belly breaths and imagine that my belly is a balloon that I am filling up with air. I breathe in and out slowly, counting to 5 on each inhale and exhale. Bringing the focus back to our breath is the simple first step to feeling better.

2) Feel

When we are in a bad mood, there is usually a reason behind it. It can be a simple irritation or aggravation, or result from weeks of pent up frustration. Instead of trying to forget about the things that are bothering us, it’s best to allow ourselves to feel them out. Take a few moments to try to recognize what you are feeling and try to give a word to it. It might be anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, or something else. Notice what you are feeling and let yourself feel it. Sometimes I end up crying when I sit with my feelings, and other times I just breathe into them. The important thing is to give them permission to be there and actually FEEL them. (I have another blog post on How to Feel Your Feelings that you might find helpful if this is something that is difficult for you).

3) Move

Now that you’ve focused on your breath and given yourself space to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling, it’s time to move! Our emotions can get stuck in our body and make us feel worse if we don’t do something to get them out. Doing some sort of physical activity is a great way to move that negative energy out of your body. If you have some time at hand, this would be a great time to go for a long run or take your favorite exercise class. If time is limited, I might put on an upbeat, high energy song and have a dance party in my living room. (June and I have made dance parties a part of our regular routine for this very reason!). It’s almost impossible to stay stuck in a bad mood when you’re dancing like a maniac to Pharrell’s “Happy” or Katy Perry’s “Firework”. Other quick ways to move the energy out of your body might be to do 20 jumping jacks, jump on a mini trampoline, or even just hit a pillow. A few minutes is usually all it takes to get things moving and flowing through you.

And, there you have it; 3 simple steps to help you bust through a bad mood. Next time you are feeling a little bit off, I encourage you to take a few minutes to Breathe, Feel, and Move your way to feeling better! Please let me know how this goes for you in the comments below.

Be well,
Ambar

How to Create Simple Rituals to Celebrate Autumn

Rituals to Celebrate Autumn

Hi friends!

Autumn is upon us, even if the weather doesn’t particularly reflect that (at least here in NJ) right now! One thing that has been really helpful for me in my self development journey, is learning to celebrate and live by the seasons. Nature offers us so much wisdom. As human beings, we are part of the natural world. By making peace with the different seasons and getting curious about the gifts that they have to offer us, we learn to live closer to nature.

One of my favorite ways to celebrate the change of seasons is by having simple seasonal rituals in place. If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you may have seen a photo I posted of my daughter June and I celebrating the Autumn Equinox by having an outdoor picnic and reflecting back on the seeds that we planted last spring, that are now coming to fruition. As I thought back on the springtime, I remembered that June was just beginning to string sentences together, and I was still adapting to my role as a full time stay at home mom, and learning to be more patient and present. We have both come a long way since the spring, and it was nice to have this little ritual to anchor us into the celebration. I like to have June be a part of my seasonal rituals, and she is only 2 years old, we kept this ritual simple and basic, but you can feel free to make it as extravagant as you wish.

I encourage you to take some time to celebrate where you are right now, this autumn. What seeds have you planted that are now coming to fruition? You can gather with friends and family and discuss this together, or make it your own private time. The important thing is that you take a moment to think about what you were desiring for your life just a few months ago, and think about the progress you have made, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. Think about the changes, big and small, that have occurred for you in the last several months. Then choose a fall inspired activity to help you celebrate!

Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate the arrival of autumn:

  • Go apple picking
  • Walk through a corn maze
  • Go pumpkin picking
  • Put up a festive fall wreath on your front door
  • Bake an apple pie or apple crumble
  • Light fall scented candles
  • Use warming essential oils like clove, ginger, and cedarwood
  • Purchase fall scented cleaning products (my favorites are from Mrs. Meyers, who always comes out with the best fall scents like apple cider and mums)
  • Go on a nature walk with no phone and no distractions
  • Hunt for leaves and see how many different colors you can find
  • Make a nature mandala out of leaves, acorns, rocks, or whatever you can find in your backyard
  • Cozy up by a fireplace
  • Add some seasonal fall decor to your home
  • Color your hair a darker hue
  • Buy a new cozy blanket or sweater
  • Paint your nails in fall colors
  • Make a leaf crown, instead of a flower crown
  • Create a fall craft

Have fun with these ideas, and make them your own! Take some time to welcome in the fall season and celebrate all of the bounty and blessings in your life.

What in your life are you celebrating this fall? What will you do to celebrate? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Fall, y’all!

Be well,

Ambar

Opening Up About My Struggles With Anxiety + Depression

my struggles with anxiety and depression
This photo was taken 12 years ago, at the height of my struggle with clinical depression. If you knew me back then, you would have thought I was fun and carefree, but really I was miserable and careless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi friends,

I have a really heavy topic to talk about today. An old friend of mine took his own life this week and left a lot of people heart-broken. He was the kind of person that had a sparkling personality; charming, charismatic, always befriending everyone he encountered and making people laugh. We weren’t the closest of friends, but we were friends, and his life had an impact on me. This news has been really saddening and shocking. He was the last person that you would ever think was fighting their own inner battle.

But clearly, he was suffering. A lot. And it’s gotten me thinking about mental illness. And about how many people are suffering in silence.

I want to open up about my own struggles with anxiety and depression. As someone who has fought through the darkness and loneliness of mental illness, and come out the other side, I’m now learning that it is my responsibility to share what the experience is like, in hopes that someone else out there reads this and knows that they are not alone, and that happiness and healing are possible.

The photo above was taken 12 years ago at the height of my struggle with depression. If you knew me back then, chances are, you would not have known that I was depressed. Quite the opposite, really. I was in college, I was in a sorority, I had a lot of friends, and an even more active social life. I went out almost every night and spent the nights dancing on top of bars and laughing with my girl friends. I appeared happy and carefree on the outside.

But, on the inside, I was a mess. I was so miserable that I felt like I had to go out every night and drink as much as I possibly could to numb the pain that I was going through. I was dropping out of all of my college classes because my anxiety was so severe that I couldn’t make it to class. I was losing my job because I woke up depressed and hungover everyday and stopped showing up to work. I had stacks of unopened mail because I had so many unpaid bills piling up that I was too anxious and overwhelmed to even open them. At night, while I was drinking, I would engage in really careless, self destructive behavior. I was reckless with my life, because I didn’t think it held much meaning. I would wake up every morning filled with shame and anxiety over my poor choices the night before, and I would start figuring out a way to numb myself from my feelings all over again.

This is the darkness of depression. You care so little about yourself that you do things that you are not proud of, and then that makes you even more depressed. It’s a vicious cycle.

Just as we don’t expect a body that is fighting an illness to function the same as a healthy body, we cannot expect a mind that is ill to function optimally. Mental illness causes us to do things that we would not do if we were mentally healthy. And then we feel ashamed, or guilty, and we are too embarrassed to talk to anyone about how we are feeling. Many times, we think that our problems are trivial, or that no one will care, or that we are bringing these problems onto ourselves, or that we have privileged lives, so we have no right to feel this way. And so, we hide. And the pain gets worse.

This is what mental illness does to you.

As humans, we all experience a wide array of emotions. But we judge them as “good” or “bad”. We think that we should be walking around feeling good and happy all the time, and we feel like we are doing something wrong if we aren’t.

We ALL go through hard things. We all have parts of our lives that we wish were different. We’ve all done something that we are ashamed of. Even those of us who seem to be happy all the time, are not. Nobody is.

In this blog, I talk a lot about natural healing. I’m really proud of the fact that after struggling with my anxiety and depression for the better part of a decade, I was able to get off medication, and continue feeling better by practicing yoga and meditation, changing my mindset, and developing somewhat of a healthy obsession with self development.

But, it took me a lot of years in traditional therapy and on medication to get to a place where I was stable enough to heal naturally. I think that there is tremendous value in mainstream treatment such as therapy and medication. In some cases, it can be life-saving. I don’t know where I would be today if I had never asked for help by going to therapy.

I don’t often talk about it, but I still struggle with depression and anxiety from time to time. The only difference is that I now have so many more tools to manage it, that it does not feel as extreme as it once did, and it doesn’t last as long. But, I’ve come to terms with the fact that anxiety and depression are something that my mind is naturally prone to. It’s a battle that I’ll likely be fighting every time my life gets a little too stressful.

If you know me personally now, at this point in my life, you know that I’m a really happy and positive person. And the reason for that is that I’ve had to fight to get to this point. I am so grateful that I’ve been fortunate enough to heal myself and live a happy, healthy life. I feel extremely blessed. I’ve experienced the darkness and it is impossible not to be giddy with happiness that I now live in the light most of the time.

I personally believe that healing from mental illness starts by taking baby steps, and that the best approach is a holistic one. We can take medication to stabilize our symptoms. But if we are not also doing the deep inner work of talking about our feelings, learning healthier coping skills, and finding new ways to manage our feelings, medication alone is not enough. It can feel overwhelming to think about all of this when you are in the midst of a clinical depression or a full blown panic attack. But, the good news is, you don’t have to know all of the answers. It all starts by taking one small step: opening up to someone and sharing how you are feeling.

Mental illness thrives in the darkness. It takes on a life of its own by being kept in secret. It grows and festers in the darkness. It becomes all consuming when it is hidden.

What would happen if we all decided to stop suffering in silence? What if we stopped sharing only the good, happy-go-lucky parts of our lives, and started to let people know where we are struggling? What if we shared how we are really feeling? What if it could become normal to ask for help?

We might save each other. We might save ourselves.

If you are struggling or going through a hard time in anyway, please tell someone. It doesn’t have to be a big, major thing that you are going through. Even the smallest challenges deserve to be brought to the light. And when we get in the habit of talking about our small challenges, it makes it so much easier to talk about the bigger ones.

Reach out and talk to someone today. Share your struggles, and ask them what theirs are. And then, really listen. We all need each other more than we know.

Thank you for listening to my story.

Be well,
Ambar

 

 

How to Ask for Help (And Actually Get It)

How to ask for Help and actually Get It

I’ve noticed a pattern with many of the women I talk to. A lot of us have a hard time asking for help, and sometimes, we desperately need it. As busy, driven women, we wear many hats: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, co-worker, boss, etc. We like to think that we can do it all by ourselves. This puts a lot of pressure on us. It can be difficult for one person to juggle all of these hats, and to try to balance them all without any help can be plain exhausting.

I’ve come to accept the fact that just because I CAN do it all, does not mean that I HAVE to. Life is so much easier when we feel supported. The people around us love us and want to help us. Many times, all we need to do is ask.

Here is my 3 step process on how to ask for help (and actually get it!):

1) Figure out where your struggles are

Many times, we can feel completely overwhelmed without pinpointing exactly where the source of overwhelm is coming from. It can be helpful to take a look at your daily routine from morning to night, and figure out where the trouble spots are.

Let’s say you are a stay at home mom with a colicky baby. Your mornings start out pretty well, you have a morning routine down, make sure to get out of the house for a little each day, and everything runs smoothly until lunch time. You start to notice that by the afternoon, you are starting to feel exhausted, and during the evening time, “the witching hours” where your baby is extremely fussy, you start to feel extremely stressed out and on edge. During this time, you are trying to get dinner on the table, soothe your crying baby, and spend time with your partner who is just getting home from work.

By looking at your routine, you’ve noticed that the evening hours are the time where you need help. Now that you know this, you can move on to the next step…

2) Find at least 3 possible solutions to your challenge

It can be helpful to come up with more than one solution to our challenges; this way we know that our circumstances are not just happening to us; they are a choice that we are actively making. It can be empowering to think about our challenges in this way.

So, in the above scenario, you might decide that you need some time to yourself each evening, so you will ask your husband to watch your child for an hour each night while you unwind by taking a hot shower, or going for a walk. Or, you might decide that what you really need is to order a meal delivery service so that you can stop stressing out about cooking dinner during this challenging time of day. Or, you may consider joining a moms group so that you can get support from other moms whose babies have colic. After coming up with these 3 options, you may find that one in particular stands out as the first obvious choice, or you may even decide to use all of them. These 3 options can now become your plan of action, or your solution to the challenges you are facing.

Now that you have some options for the type of help you desire, it’s time to move on to the last step…

3) Ask for help and be specific

The secret to asking for help and getting it, is to be specific about what your needs are.

Let’s go back to the same situation we’ve been working with. If your husband comes home from work, and you’re feeling like you’ve had it after a long day, you might be tempted to scream at him and say something like “I can’t do this anymore! I need help!” And while it’s great that you are asking for help, the way that you are asking is not particularly conducive to getting the help you so desperately need, because by simply saying “I need help”, you are leaving it up for interpretation. Your husband’s idea of what type of help you truly need might be completely different from yours. Or, he may not know what he can do to help you without being given direction. This is why it’s so important to get clear on what you need and how you can get it (which you’ve already done if you’ve followed the steps above).

Now that you are prepared, you can have a conversation with your husband and say something like, “The evening hours have been really tough for me. Do you think you could help me by taking the baby for an hour every night so that I can have some time to regroup?” This request for help is simple and clear, and chances are, he will be happy to help you.

And that’s my 3 step process for asking for, and receiving help. I know that it can be difficult to ask for help, but life is so much better when we feel supported. It can be empowering to stand up for yourself, recognize what your challenges are, and take steps to improve your situation.

I hope that you find these steps helpful, and that you are able to get help in whatever way you see fit. What do you need help with? Let me know in the comments below! I’ve learned that sometimes just saying it out loud starts to send a message out to the world that we are ready to receive the help we need. 🙂

Wishing you an easeful week full of help + support.

Be well,
Ambar

 

P.S. If you are a mom looking for some extra support, I have a few spots open for my private coaching packages. Whether you are struggling with relationship challenges, feeling emotional due to lack of sleep, or having trouble adjusting to motherhood or any other major life change, life coaching can help you. Learn more about my coaching packages by clicking HERE or sending an email to ambar@mamabirdwellnest.com. It would be my honor to help you. 🙂